Generation Brands to Reorganize

CEO says the reorganization will improve the way the company functions in this economy.

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Generation Brands recently announced plans to consolidate some of its services to different locations in an effort to make the company more efficient. As a result, the company will lay off over 10 percent of its employees over the next 18 months.

Generation Brands CEO Joe Higgins, who joined the company late last year, says the reorganization will improve the way the company functions in this economy.

“As everyone knows, not only Generation Brands but the world in general is going through some tough times, particularly those in the building products industry,” Higgins says. “So not only did we feel we had to right-size the company in order to deal with what’s going on in the world, but Generation Brands has been in existence for five years now, so we felt we had to build a better model to better server our customers.”

According to a letter send to Generation Brands partners in July, the first part of the transition involves moving Monte Carlo Fans from Sea Gull Lighting to Murray Feiss, as was announced earlier this summer. As a result, the Dallas/Fort Worth office will be closed at the end of this year, with all of the brand’s operations moving to either the Murray Feiss office in New York or the Generation Brands office in Skokie, IL.

“We’ve been doing a lot of research with customers to see what they want from Generation Brands, and right now, to order Murray Feiss and Monte Carlo, it’s two separate shipments and two separate bills, and they say, ‘You’re one company. Why can’t you make it easier for us?’” Higgins says. “We feel combining in this way will not only help our customers but also help us organizationally.”

Sea Gull Lighting and Murray Feiss will also undergo some changes in the next year. Sea Gull’s back-office functions such as accounting, purchasing and production planning will be consolidated to the Skokie office by the end of 2012, while customer service, sales, product development and other front-end functions will remain at Sea Gull’s Riverside, NJ, offices. The customer service duties for both Monte Carlo and Murray Feiss will also be moved from Riverside to Skokie in January 2012.

Tech Lighting and LBL Lighting will remain headquartered in Skokie, and Generation Brands’ distribution facilities on both the east and west coasts will be unaffected by this reorganization.

As a result of this reorganization, the company plans to lay off 10 percent of its workforce over the next 18 months, mostly at the Dallas and Riverside offices. Higgins says the reaction to this news has been “as best as could be expected” at a time like this.

“It’s never easy, but I think people braced themselves that this is reality and we have to deal with reality and not only keep the company in survival mode but also brace it for the new world, whatever that would be,” Higgins says. “We wanted to be as transparent as possible and not have employees worried, so we just laid out the full 18-month plan and said ‘here’s the deal.’ Then we met with each employee to say this is what this means for you, just to give everybody a sense of peace as far as what the future holds.”

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